This week, the House votes on a lobby reform bill which would require full disclosure of money raised for politicians by lobbyists. As you might expect, there are many legislators in both parties who do not want that bill to ever see the light of day.
Today's Washington Post features an editorial encouraging the House to do the right thing:
The most controversial part of the package is also the most essential. It would require that lobbyists reveal the amounts they help raise for lawmakers, not just disclose the campaign checks they write directly. The provision wouldn't bar "bundling"; it would simply shine some light for the public on what lawmakers and lobbyists already know, namely, how much the former are indebted to the latter. Fierce behind-the-scenes resistance to this plan is the best available proof of how badly it is needed.
The price of getting the bundling provision even this far was abandoning efforts to lengthen from one to two years the cooling-off period during which former lawmakers and staff members must refrain from lobbying former colleagues. That's unfortunate but worth the price. There are other regrettable omissions, too, including a requirement to disclose supposed grass-roots efforts by paid lobbying groups and a bar on lobbyists throwing lavish parties at political conventions to "honor" lawmakers.
But the measure would provide more frequent (quarterly), accessible (via the Internet) and detailed disclosure, including of lobbyists' contributions to lawmakers' charities. Throw in the requirement to spotlight lobbyists who bundle, and this would be a major improvement on the cozy status quo.
It is evident, just from the compromise that have already been made in the legislation that House members are fighting any significant change in the way they do business. As has been the case with many politicians since this nation began, they talk a tough fight when they are on the campaign stump, then roll over and play ball once they have attained office.
This current bill at least offers some improvements in the system. Let's hope it gets past fatcat politicians from both sides of the aisle who would rather continue to be wined and dined by special interests, and would like to do so without any undue public attention.